Museum of Darien begins new era of town history
The Darien Historical Society is dusting off its image with some exciting initiatives and topping the list is a new name — the Museum of Darien (MoD).
“The town’s 200th birthday provided the stimulus for our board to reimagine the next chapter of this very unique organization,” said Robert J. Pascal Jr., president. “We feel the name Museum of Darien is in keeping with the Society’s actual mission, which is to invite the community to learn about and celebrate its town story.”
The organization is introducing a new logo and website, which can be viewed at museumofdarien.org. And while the museum is currently closed, volunteers will be reaching out to the community and giving local businesses a boost with special visits of the Whaleboat Middlesex, a 24-foot boat replica built in the 1970s that was recently refurbished thanks to a grant from The Darien Foundation.
When the museum reopens in the fall, museumgoers will be treated to a reimagined visitor experience, thanks to a grant from the Horizon Foundation, which supported the museum’s rebranding efforts to update the museum’s signage and lighting.
The Museum of Darien tells the story of the town’s history through its artifacts, documents and collections.
“We are keeping the red saltbox image as our official logo because we are not fundamentally changing who we are — we’re just punching it up a bit to make it more modern and vibrant and better represent our mission and objectives,” said Laura Guaglianone, a member of the organization’s board of directors and an experienced marketer. Guaglianone teamed with Rudy Mossa, former member of the museum’s board and owner of 1813 Designs, to create MoD’s new look, and Brian Miller of Brian Miller Designs, a web designer based in Wilton, to design the museum’s new website.
During its annual meeting last fall, the museum’s membership voted unanimously for the organization’s facility and public programming to carry the new name: Museum of Darien.
“It’s actually a trend because many organizations realize that the word ‘Society’ can seem rather exclusive, while the word ‘Museum’ feels more inclusive, especially to younger generations. Also, the word ‘Museum’ better reflects what these Societies actually do,” said secretary of the board of directors, Abby Hord, who served on the committee. “We want to send the clear message that we are a center for learning and our doors are open to everyone.”
The Darien Historical Society was established in 1953 and moved to its current location at 45 Old Kings Highway North in the 1960s, after the Bates Scofield Homestead, the museum’s distinctive red saltbox, was donated to the organization.
“The view of the Museum from the road can be somewhat deceiving because many people think the 18th-century red salt box is the extent of the Museum, but it actually extends very far back, and the new website’s aerial footage really drives that home. It’s a huge facility that not only tells the story of Middlesex and Darien, but also houses some of the top collections in the region,” said Maggie McIntire, the museum’s executive director.
The museum expanded in 2009 with the addition of the 1832 Scofield Barn, which the organization refurbished into the Scofield Barn Exhibition Center, a state-of-the-art gallery and programming space. In addition to its Bates Scofield Homestead Museum and Scofield Barn Exhibition Center, the museum also houses a research library, an education center, a conference room, offices and reception area, storage spaces for its major collections and archive rooms.
Outside, the Garden Club of Darien maintains colonial-style kitchen gardens filled with culinary and medicinal herbs and on the museum’s front lawn is a soaring oak tree that is a descendent of the state’s famous Charter Oak tree. The museum houses an antique clothing collection of over 3,000 items, letters and documents from the time of the Revolutionary War, artifacts owned by people who lived in Middlesex Parish, and a quilt collection that is considered one of the finest in the country.
More info: museumofdarien.org or call 203.655.9233.